Woman sues for alleged choking incident at Alpharetta jail

A woman who was choked into unconsciousness at the North Fulton County Jail Annex in June is suing the city of Alpharetta, two jail officers, and the police officer who appears in video to hold her in place during the choking incident. AJC FILE

A woman who was choked into unconsciousness at the North Fulton County Jail Annex in June is suing the city of Alpharetta, two jail officers, and the police officer who appears in video to hold her in place during the choking incident. AJC FILE

A woman who was allegedly choked to unconsciousness at the North Fulton County Jail Annex last June is suing the city of Alpharetta, two correctional officers, and the police officer who is captured in a video appearing to hold her in place during the incident.

Attorneys for Casey Bennett filed a federal lawsuit Monday. Individuals named in the suit are Alpharetta Police Officer Brian Iadze, Fulton County Sergeant Angela Benton and former Fulton County Detention Officer Monique Clark.

Clark, who is male, was indicted in September by a federal grand jury for use of excessive force in the same choking incident as Bennett was booked into the jail. He was fired after working as a jailer for seven years.

Monique Clark was fired from his job as a correctional officer with the Fulton County Sheriff's Office after he was arrested on charges of assaulting a detainee during a custody exchange, Sheriff Pat Labatt said.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Camera footage released by the Alpharetta police department last year shows Bennett in handcuffs positioned behind her back.

Bennett was at a hotel on June 5 when she was arrested by Iadze and Officer Derrick Hamm for public intoxication and criminal trespass. She was transported to the jail and after arriving can be heard on video spewing expletives at officers, but she was not physically violent. The video released by Alpharetta police last year shows Bennett in handcuffs positioned behind her back.

Bennett was too intoxicated to complete booking, and on Hamm’s recommendation, was placed into a holding cell temporarily, according to the lawsuit. Shortly afterward, Benton and Clark walked Bennett to the body scanner for the booking process, the legal action states.

“As they stood in front of the scanner, Iadze was holding onto (Bennett’s) arms,” the lawsuit says. “Before (Bennett) had an opportunity to cooperate, Clark placed his hands around (her) neck and began to strangle her. As he did so, Clark told (Bennett): ‘I choke folk. I advise you to cooperate. Hold your face before you lose your breath. The choice is yours.’”

Video shows Clark’s hand grasped to the back of Bennett’s neck and Alpharetta Officer Iazde clutching the side of her arm. She eventually collapsed, appearing unconscious in the video.

Bennett did not receive immediate medical aid, the lawsuit says, and was eventually transported by ambulance to the hospital.

“She probably should not have been allowed into the jail,” Bennett’s attorney Jeff Filipovits said. “She should’ve been taken to the hospital given her level of intoxication ... Officers are supposed to be able to take a little verbal abuse. It’s just something that goes with the job.”

The lawsuit says that Alpharetta is responsible for Iadze’s actions in the chokehold incident. The city declined to comment Tuesday.

An internal affairs investigation found Iazde and Hamm did not violate Alpharetta police department policy. According to Hamm’s LinkedIn page, he was promoted to detective in October.

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